UN  headquarters

CIVICUS at UN Headquarters

Civil society is recognised by the United Nations as an indispensable source of ideas, solutions and expertise when it comes to developing and delivering global policies and programs. UN headquarters provides a number of entry points for civil society to engage in intergovernmental decision-making processes related to Peace and Security; Sustainable Development; Human Rights; International Law; and Humanitarian Aid. CIVICUS helps representatives from civil society in a number of ways, including:

  • Make interventions on a range of thematic and country specific issues;
  • Deliver joint statements
  • Organise panel discussions and workshops;
  • Produce advocacy letters;
    Conduct bilateral meetings with member states and representatives of UN bodies
For more information on our line of work at UN Headquarters, please contact mandeep.tiwanaATcivicus.org

CIVICUS at the UN General Assembly

Civil society has worked with the UN General Assembly since its inception. Representatives from civil society have participated in meetings of the General Assembly committees and other subsidiary bodies, as well as meetings of the GA itself. Over the years, the General Assembly´s system and procedures have evolved to provide opportunities for civil society leaders to address member states and provide input on the processes the General Assembly presides over.

We are currently in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. For more information, please see here. | For an overview of previous sessions, see here.

Read our joint civil society statement on outcomes of the UNGA 78 Third Committee.

CIVICUS and the Sustainable Development Goals

During the design of the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CIVICUS helped facilitate the engagement of civil society in the official deliberations. CIVICUS facilitated direct dialogue between stakeholders, governments and UN bodies on the details of the goals, targets and indicators.

Now that the goals have been agreed, CIVICUS is now focusing on advancing civil society´s participation in the delivery of the global goals. A primary entry point for civil society is the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which is the pre-eminent body for sustainable development within the UN system and responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. Civil society is able to engage in the following ways:

  • To attend all official meetings of the forum;
  • To have access to all official information and documents;
  • To intervene in official meetings;
  • To submit documents and present written and oral contributions;
  • To make recommendations;
  • To organize side events and round tables, in cooperation with Member States and the Secretariat

UN Major Groups

The UN Major Groups is an official mechanism to allow broad public participation in decision-making related to international sustainable development. There are currently nine stakeholder groups who are able to have a formal say in the design of sustainable development policies and programs, these constituencies include; Business and Industry; Trade Unions; Indigenous Peoples; Children and Youth; Women; Farmers; Local Government; Non-governmental Organisations; Science and Technology community. These stakeholder groups each have coordinators whose role it is to reach out to their global constituency, prepare them for UN deliberations on sustainable development, and prepare position papers and inputs. CIVICUS has been an organising partner of the NGO Major Group and works across the Major Groups on areas of joint advocacy.

Member States ultimately decide the modalities of participation of the Major Groups in the numerous concurrent processes on sustainable development. Thus, the engagement and participation of the Major Groups varies depending on the particular sustainable development topic and process being deliberated (I.e. The Sustainable Development Goals, The High Level Political Forum, The United Nations Environment Assembly, etc.) To learn more about the Major Groups and ways to get involved, please click on the constituency that aligns with your work:


CIVICUS' submission on the Zero Draft of the Pact for the future

CIVICUS seeks to engage the Summit of the Future as a key opportunity to shape global governance outcomes to enable the creation of peaceful, just, equal and sustainable societies. This submission should be read in conjunction to our previous submission to the Summit of the Future co-facilitators in December 2023. Overall, we believe that the Summit of the Future offers a once in a generation opportunity to reframe the parameters of global governance amid a confluence of global crises including violent conflicts, inequality, climate change and breakdown of the rules based international order.

CIVICUS’ submission to the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism

The High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism launched a wide range of public consultations on ideas for more effective multilateralism with experts, leaders, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders. CIVICUS’ submission examines the main challenges facing multilateralism and provides a United Nations (UN) reform agenda to ensure greater access to civil society. 

CIVICUS submission to the UN Committee on NGOs
The UN Committee on NGOs invited CIVICUS and all NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC to submit written contributions on ways to improve NGO engagement with the United Nations. 

High-Level Political Forum Report: Civil Society Engagement in Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals
The HLPF provides the pre-eminent space for dialogue with the UN system on sustainable development. 2016 is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and in this context 22 countries have volunteered to undertake national reviews to be presented at the HLPF. This paper aims to provide some initial reflections on the engagement with civil society in the countries under review and to set out some recommendations on how this engagement can be further strengthened.

User Guide for the High-Level Political Forum
This user guide will answer key questions about the engagement in the High Level Political Forum and its governance of the Sustainable Development Goals.The HLPF accords NGOs the most far reaching participatory privileges and rights in the history of the UN. But how can civil society most effectively engage with this process? How does the UN enable voices to be heard from the people who are most directly affected by these policies?


CIVICUS, in collaboration with United Nations Foundation, Action for Sustainable Development, Global Action Against Poverty and Forus, organised a civil society day on the sidelines of the 2022 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to celebrate the role of civil society at the UN, discuss the importance of civil society inclusion in decision-making processes, and how to improve its engagement with the UN. 

“Rebuilding for Good’’ from the Covid-19 Pandemic: the Role of Civil Society

CIVICUS, in collaboration with the government of Australia, Globalt Fokus and Action for Sustainable Development, organised a side event in the framework of the 2022 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to discuss civil society’s role in building back better from Covid-19 pandemic, its centrality in advancing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and how states and other actors can and should sustain civil society's efforts.

Women Environmental and Land Defenders: At the Frontlines of Climate Justice

In a joint effort with Gobalt Fokus and the governments of Costa Rica, Greece, and Denmark, CIVICUS – alongside the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women - brought together indigenous land and youth women human rights defenders (WHRDs), States and UN representatives to discuss not only the challenges that WHRDs - the frontline advocating to achieve climate justice globally -, but also strategies to counter these multiple intersectional layers of restrictions, and the importance of inclusion in decision-making processes.

March 05, 2024

CIVICUS' submission on the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future

The upcoming Summit for the Future, set for September 22-23, 2024, in New York City, marks a significant United Nations effort to tackle global…
February 26, 2024

#UNMute: over 350 civil society organisations ask for real inclusion in UN Summit of the…

Over 350 civil society organisations part of the #UNmute initiative have come together to issue a united call for inclusivity and participation in the preparatory process of the forthcoming Summit of the Future. The collective, which spans a broad spectrum of global civil society including CIVICUS, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Forus, the…
December 21, 2023

Submission: Key recommendations for the Summit of the Future

CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Our vision…
December 04, 2023

Input: The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental…

This submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights was made to inform the mandate's priorities for the three-year term from late…
November 22, 2023

Joint civil society statement on outcomes of the UNGA 78 Third Committee

The undersigned civil society organisations mark the conclusion of the UN General Assembly's (GA) 78th Third Committee session with the following observations on both…


25  Owl Street, 6th Floor
South Africa,
Tel: +27 (0)11 833 5959
Fax: +27 (0)11 833 7997

CIVICUS, c/o We Work
450 Lexington Ave
New York
NY 10017
United States

11 Avenue de la Paix
Tel: +41.79.910.34.28